Finally, some vaguely proactive environmental action from the White House: In a letter sent to the U.S. EPA today, the White House budget office called for better reporting of toxic industrial discharges to reduce the “considerable lag” between the gathering of data and its public release. Such information is published in the EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and plays a pivotal role in pressuring chemical companies to clean up their acts. But the figures trickle in at a snail’s pace; data from 2000, for example, will not be available to the public until this spring, although the EPA has had the information for nearly a year. Echoing appeals by environmental groups, the letter urged changes including increasing use of electronic reporting and assigning specific tracking numbers to individual corporations to expedite the system.

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